Dear Richard…

I’ve never met you, but I suspect we probably wouldn’t agree on much.

And you know what? Most of the time, I’m ok with that. Strange as this might sound coming from a (sort of) Evangelical Christian, I respect your work. I respect you for the way you’ve challenged what I believe. Thanks for that – and I mean that sincerely.

Here’s what’s not ok though. I’ve been trying all day to work this one out, and I’ve still not got there. How is it possibly, in any way, immoral to knowingly give birth to a child with Down’s Syndrome?

And yes, I realise you haven’t said anything new. That makes it worse, in many ways. I’m well aware of the statistics – 92 percent of babies in utero diagnosed with Downs Syndrome are aborted. That doesn’t make your argument any better though.

You argue that it’s immoral to give birth to a child who will face difficulties later in life.

Richard – please, tell me, because I’m curious. Do you know of any child – any one at all – who hasn’t faced some kind of difficulty in their lives?

Where are you drawing the line? Do we abort babies if we discover they’re left handed? All that faffing around with righthanded implements can make life difficult. Babies that are hearing impaired? Sorry about that, Bill Clinton.

What about those with autism? Should we, hypothetically, come up with a method of diagnosing autism in utero, should such babies be aborted? Oh no, that’s right, I forgot – people with autism are “enhanced”.

For a logical man like yourself Richard, that does sound pretty damned illogical. People on the autistic spectrum are not superheroes. Some do have enhanced abilities in certain areas. Most don’t. All experience difficulties in relating to others. Belive me – I’m on the spectrum myself, at the mildest and most functioning end, and I really don’t poop Rainbow Coloured Skittles.

It’s the same with Down’s Syndrome. Yeah, there are some real difficulties to be faced. But in a group where an astonishing 99% describe themselves as happy, can’t help but think that having Down’s Snydrome is quite the death sentance you seem to think it is.

Richard, giving birth to a disabled child is not immoral. Judging that child by his or her IQ, or perceived contribution to society, is. Treating any human being as an object is immoral. Failing to support families with disabled children, so that they feel scared and isolated and alone, is immoral.

We will probably never agree on the God thing. But until now, I thought we agreed on the human thing. You know, that humans are human, regardless of any disability – or anything else for that matter.

The fact that i’m clearly wrong just makes me want to cry.

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2 Responses to Dear Richard…

  1. Steve Ransley says:

    Thanks for this Lizzie, really good response. Whilst what Dawkins says is completely abhorrent, it is the logical working out of his worldview….at least he’s being consistent!! That is the really sad thing.

  2. lizziewiggle says:

    Leaving religion aside for the moment, I was appalled that Richard Dawkins professed such a controversial view. This is obviously a decision that’s personal to each individual family based on their unique circumstances and cannot be broadly swept under a carpet of ‘should/shouldn’t’ abort. He has no right to make judgements on the morality of parents based on what is clearly a very difficult choice.

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